By Scarlett Neuberger ’15
When it snows, the buses are delayed for what feels like hours. When it rains, the trains are wet and grimy, and tend to smell of wet dog. In the summer, subway stations are blistering, and in the winter bus stops can freeze a person half to death. It’s no secret that for these reasons and more, people hate the MTA, hate the subways, hate the buses and the whole system itself.
What people don’t seem to realize, however, is the true enormity of the MTA, and how important its job actually is. The “MTA”, standing for Metropolitan Transit Authority doesn’t just include the New York City bus and subway system. It’s comprised of the NYC subways and buses, all bridges and tunnels, the Metro – North and the Long Island Railroad. Over seven million people take the buses and trains everyday and in a year, over 2 billion. With that many people traipsing through the subway cars, its no wonder they sometimes stink of wet dog.
Since its inception, the MTA has been working to better itself for the commuters who rely on its transportation. According to mta.info, over the last two decades, $72 billion has been invested in the MTA to restore and improve old stations as well as build new ones. The latest campaign for development is known as “Improving Non – Stop”. Active since 2010, the MTA has taken on numerous projects to make commuting easier and more comfortable.
One such improvement was the renovation of Jay – Street Metrotech. Completely refurbished, it now has an elevator useful for people with wheelchairs or strollers, and connects to the R line. This useful transfer could save many people a lot of time. In another step towards commuter efficiency, an entire new line is being built up Second Avenue. Its predicted completion date is December 2016. Transversing Manhattan, the new line is expected to relieve pressure from the green line comprised of the 4, 5 and 6 trains. Currently, the green line is extremely overcrowded with people who work, live and school on the Upper East Side. This will change that.
Also improved since their humble beginning is the bus system. Today, buses have “bus only” lanes that allow them to avoid traffic and stay on schedule. Express buses do one better by having their passengers pay off the bus to speed up the boarding process. Along these lines of expediency comes gateless and cashless tolling at the Henry Hudson Bridge. The end goal of this project is the cashless tolling, in which high speed computer and camera technology will read E – Zpasses faster than ever before. Currently, the project has achieved gateless tolling, the first step towards this end goal. People with E – Zpasses no longer have to wait for the gate (the bar that lifts up and down at a toll booth) as they have all been removed. This will make crossing the bridge faster than ever. With over 750,000 vehicles crossing bridges and tunnels everyday, this increase in efficiency should have a great impact.
Using public transportation is also a good way to protect the environment. Taking trains and buses uses about 2 million metric tons of pollutants while saving about 17 million. This makes New York state the most carbon – efficient in the nation. According to a 2010 New York City inventory of greenhouse gas emissions (http://home2.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/2010/pr412-10_report.pdf), New Yorkers use about one third of the carbon used by the average American. One main factor that contributes to this the MTA. The people who are taking the subway and the buses are not driving cars and are thus saving energy and emitting less harmful pollutants. The MTA also helps the environment by charging $1 dollar for each new metrocard. In doing this, people are less likely to throw them away, which in turn reduces the amount of overall NYC trash.
Others ways in which the MTA has made the lives of their passengers easier is through their App and service boards. The App tells people about planned service changes, whether trains are running with delays, and the best route to take for wherever one is trying to go. The service boards inform a person about when a train is expected to arrive and if it is experiencing any delays. In this way, people can decide if taking the train is worth it, or if some other mode of transportation would be faster.
The MTA isn’t perfect. They still experience all sorts of troubles that cause delays and service changes which are highly inconvenient. It’s probably impossible to count the number of times there has been a track fire and the trains have been delayed for an hour, not to mention how many times in which a signal malfunction caused stalled trains and resulted in the whole line getting backed up. However, the MTA is constantly working to fix these problems as well as improve its service. It is one of the most reliable forms of transportation in the NY area and proves it everyday.